Pirating copyrighted content and streaming content without paying for it is illegal and can result in consequences such as being fined or being imprisoned. But despite the fact that they may face these consequences, many pirates aren’t concerned about breaking the law. But they should at least be concerned about “breaking” their computers.
This is because, as reported by Cnet, a recent report by security company Kaspersky revealed that malware disguised as episodes of popular TV shows became increasingly common in 2018.
The report’s findings show that series including Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld are among the 31 most popular TV shows aired in 2018 that hackers routinely use as bait to secretly install malware on people’s computers.
Kaspersky tracked the appearance of all these shows on torrenting and piracy sites, and of the 31 shows studied, Kaspersky found 126 340 cases of malware posing as episodes.
“The data is sourced from millions of volunteers worldwide that share cybersecurity data with the company as part of its Kaspersky Security Network,” said Cnet.
Kaspersky report breakdown
The Kaspersky report showed the following findings.
- Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Arrow were the worst-affected shows.
- Fake Game of Thrones episodes accounted for almost one-fifth of malware (17 percent).
- 33 different types of malicious threats associated with pirated episodes of Game of Thrones were uncovered.
- The first and last episode of each Game of Thrones season were the worst for malware, with the first ever episode “Winter is Coming” one of the leading sources of malware.
- American Horror Story did the most damage, with each malicious file posing as an episode and reaching an average of three users.
The two most popular yet very obvious pieces of malware were “Not-a-virus: Downloader” and “Not-a-virus: AdWare.”
There were no new episodes of Game of Thrones episodes released in 2018 – which makes the above stats even more alarming. Initial stats around Season 8, which is currently airing, suggest that HBO’s fantasy series was downloaded or streamed illegally more than 54 million times within 24 hours of airing.
So, even if you’re not worried about being fined or facing jail time for pirating copyrighted content or for streaming content without paying for it, then at least worry about the malware your computer will be exposed to.
Streaming services like Showmax, Netflix and Amazon Prime offer excellent international and local content for which you only have to pay a small monthly fee, protecting you from the risks of piracy.
This article was published in partnership with MultiChoice.